The best daytrips from Lisbon

All of the following destinations are under two hours by car from Lisbon, and they are all stunning. If you live in the capital of Portugal, then you should be aware of the array of daytrips you can take around Lisbon.

Read on for suggestions of daytrips that you can take from Lisbon and make the most of the city’s privileged location.


The Arrábida Natural Park is, without a doubt, one of the best daytrips you can take around Lisbon. From the moment you arrive you will be stunned by the contrast of the blue waters with the green of the mountain, putting you in immediate touch with nature. The best thing to do is to go for walks along the hiking trails, which provide you with unique experiences of absolute isolation in nature and an amazing view over the Atlantic. The convent, the fortresses and the abandoned palaces are also worth a visit, but make sure to save some time for a dive in one of the beaches, weather permitting, before heading back home. The Portinho da Arrábida, the Galápos, or the Galapinhos beaches are a must, as is the Santa Maria da Arrábida Fortress, which is a monument of national interest, and the Comenda Palace, one of architect Raul Lino’s most impressive achievements, where Jackie Kennedy used to go to get away.

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If you live in Lisbon you just have to visit Cascais, and take in the stunning views from the drive along the Marginal road that connects the two, along the coast. When you arrive go for a walk through the historic centre and along the boardwalk, visit the Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum, the Town Market, the Citadel, the Marechal Carmona Park, the beaches, visit the Boca do Inferno – an impressive rock formation in the sea – the Santa Marta lighthouse, the Casa da Guia, or the Paula Rego Story House, and you will quickly understand why Cascais became famous as a summer getaway for kings and princes. Let us not forget the famous and enormous Guincho beach, where you can experience the raw power of the ocean and of nature. As the day draws to a close, say your goodbyes with a sunset drink at the Cresmina Dunes Interpretation Centre.

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Just a few decades ago this was the best kept secret in terms of coastline, but now everybody is talking about Comporta as the ideal destination for a day, a weekend or even a full holiday by the sea. It has the great advantage of being located just a few kilometres from the capital, which makes it a great bet for a daytrip from Lisbon. In Comporta you will find a beautiful expanse of sand, with an inviting ocean, great fish and seafood at the local restaurants, but also hamburgers and simpler dishes. The trendy clothes and furniture shops are also an attraction, as is the region in general, with its already famous party scene. Make sure to visit the Herdade da Comporta to taste the high-quality wines. In the vicinity you can also visit the Roman Ruins of Troia.

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Names such as Ribeira d’Ilhas, Coxos, Calada, and Foz do Lizandro have come to symbolise absolute musts in terms of Lisbon-based daytrips, due to the beauty of the local Ericeira beaches and, for surfers, especially, some of the best waves in Europe. Ericeira is most popular during the Summer months, but worth visiting at any point during the year. Here the fish is always fresh, and the restaurants have an ample and very tasty offering. The same goes for the bars, where you can enjoy some good music and an ocean view at the end of the afternoon. The local Cultural Centre, an impressive building that used to be a casino a century back, is also worth a visit, as is the Santa Marta Park, where you can enjoy a music room, an amphitheatre, a skating rink, a squash room, tennis courts, and minigolf. If you are looking for some of the cultural variety which abounds, why not pay a visit to the Sumedhãrãma Buddhist monastery? Who knows, you might end up signing up for a meditation workshop.

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If you’re looking for a daytrip filled with history and culture, then you have to get yourself to Lourinhã and visit a region that is a reference in terms of the study of dinosaurs. At around ten hectares, Dino Parque is the largest outdoor museum in Portugal and includes a theme park where you can see over 180 life size models of different species. Being a coastal region, Lourinhã also has great beaches such as Areia Branca, Areal, Valmitão, or Zimbral. Check out the XVI Century Santa Maria do Castelo Church, with its Gothic style, visit the Lourinhã museum and enjoy the stunning views from the XVII Paimogo Fortress, around which was found a dinosaur nesting area. If you still have it in you, then a walk around the Fonte Lima Park will certainly be a good idea to recharge your batteries.

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Mafra has a remarkable offering of historical sites and natural spaces where you can be immersed in nature, and which are worth a visit. Make your way to the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, a royal hunting ground that was founded in 1747 as a leisure ground for King John V, spread out over 819 hectares. You will be able to see a variety of species of trees, and, with a little luck, you’ll spot deer, bucks, and wild boars that roam around freely. For an even more intense experience visit the 17-hectare Iberian Wolf Recovery Centre, which is home to specimens of this endangered species that are unable to return to their natural surroundings, often because they have been injured by traps. This is a unique opportunity to get a close look at a fascinating and majestic animal, which is so often unjustly maligned. The Typical José Franco Village, which recreates a traditional Portuguese village, is another spot you shouldn’t miss. No trip to Mafra would be complete without a visit to the XVII Century National Mafra Palace and Convent which represents the most important baroque monument in Portugal. Special mention must go to the library, with over 40 thousand volumes, and the basilica’s carillon and six organs.

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In the Alentejo region, only 100 km or so from Lisbon, you will find the Montargil Dam, a natural refuge, very peaceful and quiet, which is ideal for swimming, fishing, and water sports. Nearby you can find the Regional Megalithic Centre, or try out your wakeboarding skills, go for a balloon or a boat ride or, if you are in the mood for something less adventurous, opt for bicycles, horses, or kayaks.

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For a medieval experience there is nothing better than a trip to Óbidos, beginning with the Castle, whose walls encase the town. Make sure to try the traditional ginginha liqueur, served in chocolate cups. Nearby, the Óbidos Lagoon has more than just spectacular views to bestow on its visitors, and you can try your hand at water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, kiteboarding, and stand up paddle, or you can just go and relax at the Foz do Arelho, Bom Sucesso, and Baleal beaches.

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So close to Lisbon, and yet so different, Sintra is one of the most popular destinations in terms of daytrips around Lisbon, not only because of its rich cultural and natural treasures, but also because it resembles a dreamlike enchanted town. You just can’t miss the historical centre, where every nook and cranny show the unique characteristics of the town and call one to venture into the surrounding forests and pine groves. Before doing so, however, make a stop at the Periquita pastry shop and get an energy boost with some delicious travesseiros. Nearby, in Colares, you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, Praia da Ursa. The access to the beach is an adventure in itself, so entertainment is guaranteed. If you are visiting on a second, or fourth Sunday, the São Pedro fair is the place to go for the best fruit and vegetables, and to mingle with the locals. Of course, you must also pay a visit to the romantic Pena Palace, as well as to the Town Palace and the Quinta da Regaleira Estate, but save some time to go to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Continental Europe, described by national poet Camões as the point where “land ends and the sea begins”.

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Cardinal D. Henrique founded a leper colony here and in 1901 Queen Amelia came to inaugurate the first Portuguese swimming colony. Nowadays what draws crowds is the traditional lifestyle. You can get to Trafaria from Belém by ferry, which is a nice experience. Nearby Costas de Cão you can visit Quinta do Tagus Village, which used to be home to Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro and has now been converted to a luxury tourism resort which looks out over the river, with a stunning view over the capital, the Sintra Mountain, the Monument to the Discoveries, the Belém Tower, and the 25 April Bridge. Sit down for a meal and make sure to order fish, which is served fresh and full of flavours of the times when this town still “belonged” only to the local fishermen. Then it is time to relax and take in some of the ambience of a truly authentic and peaceful place, to get the strength to make it back to the busy capital.

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